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Year 2001 No. 175, October 16, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Further Demonstrations against the War on Afghanistan

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Further Demonstrations against the War on Afghanistan

Workers at Viasystems Hold Their Own March and Meeting

Rover Workers Reject Pay Deal

Punishment or Retaliation?

Stop the Attack on Afghanistan!

Iraq Rejects Link To Anthrax

Statement of Yasser Arafat

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Further Demonstrations against the War on Afghanistan

Ireland

A demonstration of about 300 people took place on Sunday at the US embassy in Dublin.

Speakers condemned the aggression against Afghanistan as well as the racist nature of the war. One speaker warned that Bush, Blair and indeed the Irish government were trying to criminalise protest.

The demonstration assembled to march to the British embassy, but the Gardai prevented it from moving off. The Gardai brutally arrested several demonstrators, and two were charged with offences under the Public Order Act, before being released.

A rally against the war is to take place at 6.30 pm this evening at the Dail Eireann.

Menwith Hill

In addition to the large London demonstration on Saturday, people also gathered at Menwith Hill to show their opposition to the current war and the Star Wars programme of the US.

Menwith Hill in Yorkshire is one of an international network of spy bases that receive information from satellites. It is an essential part of the Bush’s plans to militarise space and to the current Anglo-US war effort. The base is set to expand both due to the Star Wars programme and because of the success of German peace campaigners in shutting a US spy base in their country.

The demonstration and protest was peaceful and without incident. The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) had called, unusually, for people not to enter the base due to heightened security and tension. Ministry of Defence police inside the perimeter fence carried machine guns.

A "people’s parliament" was convened. Many people with a wide range of backgrounds spoke movingly and informatively about the Star Wars programme and the current war. One important point which was made was that Bush is using the current crisis to push forward with Star Wars and it looks as if Blair will agree to all of the demands of the US. It was pointed out that Star Wars is about global military domination. This shows the importance of continuing the campaign against Star Wars in the current crisis.

The protest at Menwith was the lead item on the local Yorkshire news.

Glasgow Peace Demonstration

The Antiwar Demonstration in Glasgow on Saturday was one of the biggest seen in Scotland in recent years with 4,000 people participating. People from a diversity of groups, creeds and races marched through the City.

The demonstrators assembled in George Square to call for an immediate end to air strikes against the Taleban regime. Several groups, including CND, UNISON and the Scottish Socialist Party, were represented at the rally.

George Galloway MP made a call for an immediate end to military action. He said that innocent people would lose their lives during the bombardment: "To follow a crime of massacre with another crime of massacre is equally unconscionable and I believe it is also a terrorist act."

The Glasgow MP said the military confrontation was a mismatch and called on President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to use diplomatic channels in their fight against terrorism.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan said he was "encouraged" that the demonstration was the third and biggest yet since military strikes started against Afghanistan on Sunday.

Exeter Pro-Peace March

A Pro-Peace March took place in Exeter on Saturday morning. It had the support and backing of the Exeter Stop the War Coalition.

The demonstrators demanded a peaceful political resolution to the conflict and an end to terrorism which does not entail the loss of yet more innocent lives.

The march had wide ranging support from religious organisations, along with students, and political organisations.

Speakers included, among others, Lucy MacKeith, member of the British Humanist Association and the Devon & Exeter Race Relations Council, and Professor Tim Niblock, Director of the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies, Exeter University.

Article Index



Workers at Viasystems Hold Their Own March and Meeting

On Saturday, October 6, over 400 redundant workers, family and friends marched from the Viasystems plant in South Shields to the South Shields Social and Labour Club for a meeting. They marched from the factory in Laygate, South Shields, which still retains 850 workers. It is reported that they are also due to be laid off by Christmas. The march and meeting was organised by the workers themselves to discuss their campaign against the job losses and plant closures. The workers also invited union organisers and the local MP who were due to attend the meeting later.

The receivers had announced the previous day that there were 17 expressions of interest in buying both the South Shields and North Tyneside factories and the workers discussed how this would affect their campaign. The workers called on the government to end the situation where companies like Viasystems can take advantage of huge grants and then pull out. It was revealed the day before in the North East Journal that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was prepared to take legal action if a £17 million grant given to boost employment on Tyneside was not paid back by one of two companies involved, the European PCB Group based in the Cayman Islands and the US electronics giant Viasystems Group Inc. It was reported that what is not clear is whether a guarantee that Viasystems Group Inc gave to the government in 1997 over paying back the grant if it closed down was transferred to European PCB Group (Cayman Islands) Ltd. These are the current owners who were responsible for calling in the receivers. Clearly the company had employed a technicality to get out of paying back the money and also make the government and taxpayer responsible for redundancy payments which, however, have not been paid. A spokeswoman for the DTI said: "We have written to both companies about recouping the grant. The structure of the company is extremely complicated and it is taking some time to work through but we are confident of getting the money back."

The situation has brought an angry but considered response from the workers that they must take matters into their own hands. They have faced divisive tactics from the company who have laid off workers at one plant and imported in redundant workers from another. Referring to the fact that the US owners have utilised the present crisis over the terrorist attacks on the US to announce the further closure of the South Shields plant, one worker referred to the "industrial terrorism" that has been carried out by companies like Viasystems.

What this shows is that workers are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they need to take a stand on their own initiative against the neo-liberal globalisation and that this is a problem that the workers are going to have to deal with themselves. They are coming to the conclusion that they and the government are speaking different languages. When the workers talk of globalisation it refers to the need for workers everywhere to support each other and the many areas of communication and co-operation now possible in the modern world. When the government refers to globalisation it is solely to facilitate companies like Viasystems in "capitalising on low cost manufacturing environments" whilst ensuring the workers continue to be marginalised from the decision making process.

Workers must turn their organising initiatives into political initiatives where they set their own agenda. Such an agenda will have the perspective of putting an end to the block that is being placed on building a balanced and independent economy and in which the rights and interests of the producers are paramount. It will also be an agenda for empowering all the people to take the decisions in society.

Article Index



Rover Workers Reject Pay Deal

Workers at MG Rover have voted to reject a pay and conditions offer from the Phoenix management. At Longbridge the offer was a 2% pay rise, and the John Towers Management demanded that an overtime deal left over from former owners BMW should be kept in the package. Workers have flatly rejected the overtime deal, claiming that they were never paid for the work or even given the time off. Around 80% of the workforce have turned down the offer. Unions now want more talks with the management.

Article Index



Punishment or Retaliation?

The following article is taken from Postmark Prague No. 348, Sunday, October 14, 2001. It was written by veteran Czech anti-fascist and former Nazi concentration camp inmate Vera Pickova, and translated by Ken Biggs. The article originally appeared in the Czech daily Halo Noviny.

The Czech mining village of Lidice was razed to the ground in 1942 and most of its people shot or gassed in retaliation for their alleged involvement in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi dictator of the so-called "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". The whole world condemned this.

After Bin Laden was alleged to have been involved in the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the Afghans were told to extradite him. As in the case of Heydrich's assassination, "collective retaliation" faced all those, even the children, who lived in the country which hosted the alleged perpetrator. The Afghans won't hand Bin Laden over, regardless of whether he is guilty or not. He's their guest and a guest is sacrosanct for Muslims. So they can expect retaliation in the same spirit of "collective guilt" as the people of Lidice in 1942.

I've experienced American "collective guilt" at first hand. At the end of World War Two I was a nurse in the hospital at a "labour re-education" camp at Hallendorf near Brunswick, Germany. Himmler ordered that foreign women working at the Hermann Goering Works who breached Nazi labour discipline rules or didn't work hard enough should be sent there. Most of the inmates came from camps where 80,000 slave labourers from German-occupied countries were being held. Later they were sent back to work or to a concentration camp, or executed.

Towards the end of the war the American planes came. We weren't afraid. They were our allies and weren’t they bombing land occupied by Goering's plants, albeit very carefully, to disrupt the Nazi war effort? Early in February 1945 the sky above the Goering steelworks was still regularly lit up by a red glow as the American planes flew over.

The "kind Yanks" also dropped toys and pencils for German children, which when picked up exploded in their hands as retaliation for their "collective guilt" for Hitler's crimes.

At the hospital we had to treat "collectively guilty" women injured by phosphor from American bombs which ate deep into their wounds and was impossible to remove. Our American allies did considerably more damage to these women than to the Goering plants; the Americans were said to still have capital invested in them during the war, and they wanted to restart production at them in the autumn, a few months after the end of the war.

The American planes devastated Brunswick, the medieval seat of the Duchy of Brunswick, and its civilian population. All that was left of its historic centre was the fountain and a statue of its legendary native son, the astute Till Eulenspiegel (and his seven owls), surveying the ruins around him and smiling knowingly. They didn't even spare the woods near the steelworks or our camp. They dropped mines, which left deep craters surrounded by trees broken like matchsticks. They clearly despised conventional bombs. The deadly splinters from one of their anti-personnel bombs penetrated the hospital's wooden fence and made a deep hole in my nose. A doctor operated on it the next day, removing the gangrenous tissue from the flesh without anaesthetic; there wasn't any for the prisoners, or drugs. I survived, unlike others from our hospital who had been injured in the raid. But how many millions of others have not survived American "retaliation", beginning with Hiroshima?

During later raids, the warders took all of us from the hospital with them into the woods. We took as many of our fellow-prisoners as we could. The warders didn't have time to be surprised by the number of "patients"! One raid was particularly awful. The planes were circling above us. We called them "coffee grinders" and there was a noise like coke being unloaded into a cellar, a swishing sound. We knew from experience that bombs whose swish we could hear before they landed wouldn't hit us directly. Mines and trees were falling all around us. We tried to find cover on the ground. Our camp was levelled to the ground, and we and the hospital were moved into the completely untouched grounds of the Goering works. For years after the war I suffered from shock brought on by the drone of planes.

So I've lived through the threat of death from the skies, along with the Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and Yugoslavs ordinary people subjected to "humanitarian" bombing. And I'm terrified at what some of these enraged American "heroes" are capable of by way of "retaliation", now that they've experienced in their previously invulnerable country some of the horror which innocent people throughout the world have been going through for decades at the hands of the US.

Even though no American has ever been punished in the US for killing civilians abroad, it's right that those who caused the death of innocent civilians in the planes and buildings on September 11 should be punished. But it's also high time that double standards were dropped and all of the guilty punished in accordance with the law, whoever they are. But not the innocent. And not because of a country's "collective guilt". Punishment Yes! Retaliation No!

Article Index



Stop the Attack on Afghanistan!

Statement of Coalition of Women for Peace, Published in Ha'Aretz, Israel, October 12, 2001

This is no war against terrorism – it is revenge for lost honour and a display of power by the rich and strong against the poor.

The main victims of this bombing will be Afghani citizens who are already suffering under the brutal Taleban regime, especially Afghani women.

War is never a solution, and the war on Afghanistan will not end terrorism. On the contrary – this poor, hungry, devastated, and humiliated people with their millions of refugees will have nothing to lose but their honour, and will fight for this honour with all the means at their disposal, even the tools of terrorism.

Terrorism can be prevented only by ending oppression, hunger, and humiliation.

Instead of killing and destroying those who rise up against them, the rich and sated countries should help build the infrastructure for a decent life and a just sharing of resources. Food and education are preconditions, though not sufficient, for creating a more democratic and egalitarian society.

This universal principle holds true for Afghanistan, and for the Palestinians as well: An Israeli-Palestinian peace can be achieved only by ending the occupation and the oppression.

No More War!

The Coalition of Women for Peace:

Bat Shalom; Machsom-Watch; NELED – "Women for Coexistence"; New Profile: Movement for the Civil-isation of Israeli Society; Noga Feminist Journal; TANDI – Movement of Democratic Women for Israel; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom – Israel chapter; Women and Mothers for Peace – The re-grouped Four Mothers Movement; Women Engendering Peace; Women in Black.

Article Index



Iraq Rejects Link To Anthrax

The Iraq Foreign Minister Naji Sabri on Monday rejected attempts to link his country to the outbreak of anthrax in the United States. The Foreign Minister described as "prattle" any attempt to link the anthrax outbreak with Iraq. Speaking after a ceremony to celebrate the election of Saddam Hussein as Iraq's president, Naji Sabri denounced "American arrogance".

It should be noted that British and US warplanes are still flying over Iraq, and Iraq is exercising its right to defend its airspace in almost daily skirmishes. The air exclusion zones that the warplanes patrol are not sanctioned by any UN resolution.

Saddam Hussein is being branded as a perpetual enemy of the United States and the hawks in the US are giving calls that Iraq should be allowed to be dismembered, invaded and occupied by the US military. In a Phase II scenario, the United States could stage an invasion with the help of Britain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. One scenario requires a significant build-up, a long air campaign against all of Saddam Hussein's military assets, and finally a land invasion.

The anthrax hysteria is being pressed into service to bolster the case for a Phase II toppling of the present Iraqi government.

Article Index


Statement of Yasser Arafat

The following is the statement of the President of the Palestinian authority, Yasser Arafat, at the joint press conference on October 15 held by Tony Blair and Yasser Arafat. The text is taken from the Number 10 Downing Street web site.

Yasser Arafat (Through Interpreter): Let me first express my deepest appreciation to you Mr Prime Minister for the comprehensive and very constructive meeting we just had. In our comprehensive meeting with the Prime Minister many important meetings were discussed. First of all let me reiterate as I reiterated to the Prime Minister in our meeting and I will repeat it in front of you, our condemnation of the terrorist acts witnessed, done in New York and Washington. We are against all form of terrorism included state sponsored terrorism. Terrorism is a phenomena not linked to a certain religion, to a people or to a geographic location. Fighting terror is not a war against Arabs or Muslims or Islam. Islam is a religion of graciousness, love and peace like all other religions. I recite to you from the Koran ‘All people, we created you from a man and a woman, we made you many different peoples and tribes so you can get acquainted. Those most honourable in the sight of God are those most gracious or believer or faithful.’ Our Palestinian cause is a just cause. We are supported fully by the international community, supported the Arabs, the Muslims the Christians, it is the Holy Land. There can be no mix between our just cause and the objectives and methods that are unjust like the terrorist acts and the killing of civilians like what happened recently in the United States. This is the position actually of the Arab world and the Muslim world (UNCLEAR) in the recent meetings in Dohar (?) Qatar. The Foreign Ministers, that is correct.

Yasser Arafat: (UNCLEAR)…Sahib is not translating accurately The Foreign Ministers, the Arab Foreign Ministers and the Muslim Foreign Ministers.

Yasser Arafat (Through Interpreter): In this Foreign Ministers meeting of the Islamic nations and the Arab countries held in Dohar (?) the Palestinian clergymen, Muslims and Christians participated…

Yasser Arafat: Christians and Muslims.

Yasser Arafat (Through Interpreter): …Christians and Muslims. OK.

Yasser Arafat: You have to be accurately translating it because we, according to our religiousness, Christians should be mentioned before the Muslims. (UNCLEAR) our religious. Yes.

Yasser Arafat (Through Interpreter): I spoke to his excellency the Prime Minister about the suffering of the Palestinian people and what the three point two million Palestinians face from (UNCLEAR) siege, bombardment and assassinations, the continuation of the Israeli settlement activities, the demolition and destruction of homes, farms, factories. In spite of all of this I reiterate Prime Minister, our full commitment to the cease-fire I declared so we can achieve immediately the implementation of the Mitchell recommendations and the George Tennet’s understanding and the other signed agreement between us and them. (UNCLEAR) quarters, your Excellency Mr Prime Minister, from London I call upon the Israeli government to immediately join us in resuming the permanent (UNCLEAR) negotiations immediately. So we can reach a just comprehensive and lasting solution to all issues on the agenda, that is an agreed agenda. Jerusalem, settlements, borders, refugees, security, water in consistency with the implementation of Security Council Resolutions two four two, three three eight, four two five and general assembly resolution one nine four and all other relevant resolutions. It is high time to end the Israeli occupation. It is high time to put an end to the Israeli occupation, to put an end to the conflict between the two sides, to establish a Palestinian independent state with East Jerusalem which we call holy noble Jerusalem as its capital. A Palestinian state next to the state of Israel so, so our children and their children, our people and their people and all the people of the Middle East region can live in peace, security and stability. On this occasion I am not going to forget to mention my late partner in the making of the peace of brave Mr Yitzhak Rabin, the late Prime Minister of Israel, the man who I signed the first agreement with.

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